Tips on caring for your son’s circumcision

Ok, so now you are in charge of caring for a newly circumcised penis. As a mom who’s never had a penis or as a dad who has no memory of his pre-circumcised days, you may have questions after you leave the hospital about how to care for this “wound.” 

Unlike most infants in the world, in the United States, most boys are circumcised. Parents choose to circumcise their sons for various reasons including medical and cultural beliefs. In this blog post I will not address any debates about circumcision. I will only address care of the recently circumcised penis.

It takes about one week for a circumcised penis to fully heal. This is not long in the scheme of things. While there are no absolute standards of circumcision care, most providers recommend putting a walnut size amount of either petroleum ointment or antibiotic ointment directly onto the head of the penis at every diaper change for the first 3 or 4 days. Some find it easier to dollop the ointment onto a gauze pad and then tuck the ointment covered pad into the diaper.

Be sure to clean any stool on the penis using mild soap and water. Some white, gray, or yellow material will accumulate on the head of the penis around the third or fourth day. This material, called granulation tissue, is a normal part of the healing process. (You may remember a similar healing process occured when you skinned your knee as a child). Go ahead and wash the goo with warm water, the secretions will disappear over the next few days.

Infection is rare, but does occur. Watch for an increase in swelling, an increase in redness, redness extending down the shaft of the penis, an increase in pain, pus discharge from the wound site, and fever of 100.4 F or higher. With any of these symptoms, take your child to be evaluated by your child’s health care provider.

Sometimes extra, or redundant, foreskin remains around the head of the penis. Over time, this extra tissue does retract back. Scar tissue rarely forms permanently because with each erection (yes, infants have erections) the head of the penis pulls away from the shaft. As the baby gets older, parents can gently pull back redundant skin with their hands when they give the baby a bath. If you are concerned about the appearance of your child’s penis, ask his health care provider to take a look.

One last tip: remember to point the penis DOWN when putting a new diaper on your son; otherwise he will urinate “up” through the diaper and all over his shirt. Trust me on this one.

Julie Kardos, MD and Naline Lai, MD
©2010 Two Peds in a Pod®

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